GEORGE TOWN: The Penang government is going ahead with its plan to build dormitories for foreign workers to address complaints about them roaming around their neighbourhoods in their underwear, drinking alcohol, quarrelling and fighting among themselves.
The dormitories are planned for Bukit Tambun, Permatang Tinggi, Juru and Batu Maung, said state housing exco Jagdeep Singh Deo.
He said this would combat rising social ills involving the foreigners.
He added that the location in Bukit Tambun in central Seberang Prai has been approved, while the rest — two others on mainland Penang and Batu Maung on the island — were still under consideration.
“We will continue to identify other suitable locations for the dormitories.
“The state will continue to brief the relevant parties to make sure they understand the extreme need to have these dormitories to avoid social ills and problems that have occurred due to our inaction previously,” he said.
Jagdeep said the next briefing with the people would be in Juru next Monday.
On objections by the public in Bukit Tambun on the dormitory there, Jagdeep said the people were not actually against the idea as they too understood the necessity of the projects in tackling social problems.
He said their objection was on the exact location of the dormitory.
“But the location of the dormitory is not close to their housing area. The location was also selected according to guidelines and it was approved in July 2015,” he said.
Over the years, there had been complaints of social problems by Malaysians after foreign workers rented homes in their neighbourhoods.
Jagdeep said an example of social problems involving foreigners was the killings of five people in Serdang, Selangor, after a fight broke out among Myanmar nationals on Thursday night.
“This was not the first of its kind. It has happened many times in Selangor, Penang and other states,” he said.
Jagdeep said this state government had begun looking into the problem four years ago, warning factory employers against renting low-cost and low-medium cost homes to house their foreign workers.
He said that in 2014, employers appreciated the state’s effort in combating social ills involving foreign workers and asked the state to provide housing for them.
He said the dormitory guidelines approved by the State Planning Committee in July 2015 included stringent safety requirement and security checks on the workers by government agencies.
The workers’ details must also be submitted to the immigration department, National Security Council, police and management, while the dorms must be installed with security alarm systems, emergency lighting and CCTV.
Jagdeep said there must also be internal patrolling, security booths, qualified security guards, and a biometric system to monitor the workers’ movements.
“Drinking alcohol, gambling and prostitution are also prohibited in the dorms,” he said.
Apart from the strict security, the dorms will be equipped with amenities like multipurpose halls, canteens, rest areas, television, reading rooms, laundry and convenience stores, ATMs, sick bays and postal boxes.
Jagdeep said the dormitories would be self-sufficient, reducing the workers’ need to go out to run errands, which could possibly help to prevent the rise in social ills among them.